Ultimate ‘Gun-Free’ Zone: Buffalo Wild Wings Refuses to Serve Cops for Carrying Guns

Everyone’s slamming a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise in Manassas, Virginia, for refusing to serve eight Prince William County police officers who were openly carrying their firearms in the restaurant.

A Prince William County resident named Daryl LaClair was so outraged he wrote a letter to the executives of BW3 at their headquarters in Minnesota complaining about the incident.  He also started a public awareness campaign to spread word of the company’s alleged mistreatment of law enforcement.

“For this to have happened at all is just absurd,” the LaClair told the Manassas Park Patch in an e-mail last week.

When the store manager got wind of the story, that one of his employees refused to serve eight cops, who were on duty but wearing civilian clothes, he quickly issued an apology, saying the whole thing was a “huge misunderstanding.”

“… There is no reason why those officers should have been asked to leave … police officers are always welcome in my establishment and even though we do have a no gun policy, as a company that excludes off duty police officer,” General Manager Scott Lupton wrote in an email to the police department.

“As a company we are community oriented.  We appreciate everything that police officers do for us.”

With all due respect to Mr. LaClair and Mr. Lupton, I disagree.  I think the employee’s decision to ask the police officers to vacate the restaurant was precisely the right thing to do.

Allow me to explain.   But first, in case you’re curious, here is BW3’s official corporate policy on guns in the restaurant:

Buffalo Wild Wings respects the right of individuals to carry firearms.  One of our top priorities is the comfort, safety and enjoyment of our Guests and we have elected to exercise our right to prohibit the carrying of firearms in our company-owned restaurants.  We regret any inconvenience this may cause but believe that this position is in the best interest of our Guests and our Team Members. This position may vary in independently owned franchised locations.

So, in short, the majority of BW3s are gun-free zones.  As they say, it’s their call; they have the right to prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms into their restaurants.

But to the broader topic of gun-free zones, I believe all gun-free zones should truly be gun-free.  Meaning, I don’t think it makes any sense to give police officers special treatment.  If it’s a gun-free zone, make it a gun-free zone – no exceptions.

Now, I know what people are going to say, “Police should be excluded from gun-free zones, they’re trained on how to use a firearm.”

To this argument I say two things.  First, there are other individuals who are equally qualified to carry a firearm, e.g. someone who has served in the Armed Forces.  A former Marine for example, would he/she not be equally qualified to carry a firearm?  How about a firearms instructor or a concealed carry permit holder?  They are certainly trained on how to safely handle and carry a firearm.

Don’t think so?  Well, then consider my second point, which is to refer people to research cited by Jeffrey Goldberg in his powerful essay “The Case for More Guns (and Gun Control).”  Goldberg is an American journalist who writes for The Atlantic.  He’s also a liberal:

There is no proof to support the idea that concealed-carry permit holders create more violence in society than would otherwise occur; they may, in fact, reduce it. According to Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA and the author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, permit holders in the U.S. commit crimes at a rate lower than that of the general population. “We don’t see much bloodshed from concealed-carry permit holders, because they are law-abiding people,” Winkler said. “That’s not to say that permit holders don’t commit crimes, but they do so at a lower rate than the general population. People who seek to obtain permits are likely to be people who respect the law.” According to John Lott, an economist and a gun-rights advocate who maintains that gun ownership by law-abiding citizens helps curtail crime, the crime rate among concealed-carry permit holders is lower than the crime rate among police officers.

In the research I’ve done on concealed carry permit holders and crime rates, I’ve certainly noticed a similar trend: concealed carry permit holders commit fewer crimes on average than the general population.  For more on this, click here or here or here.

Okay, so what’s the point?  It makes no sense to have exceptions to a gun-free policy because the people who are banned from carrying firearms to begin with (CCW permit holders) are equally as capable of defending themselves or others as those who are excluded from the policy (law enforcement).  So, if a business is going to do it, they should do it whole hog.  No exceptions.  They should also be prepared to live with the results.

Of course, the larger point in all of this is that gun-free zones are absurd to begin with.  Any business that truly cared about the safety and comfort of its clients or patrons would understand this.  They’d understand that gun-free zones create soft targets for criminals and sociopaths, and would therefore welcome law-abiding gun owners with open arms.

In the end, I suppose what I’m suggesting is that if one is going to do something stupid, they might as well do it with consistency.

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